A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Human Computer Interaction

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Jeffrey Veen's Blog

The personal weblog of Jeffrey Veen, a founding partner of Adaptive Path, a user experience consultancy focusing on the impact of design on business.

Veen, Jeffrey. Veen.com (2005). Resources>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>Blogs


Journal of HCI Vistas

This website is meant to provide insights into various multi-disciplinary aspects of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). It looks at this subject particularly from Indian perspective. HCI Vistas publishes at least two original articles every month. It offers latest research papers as downloads. It also presents Comptoons and survey reports. The website is meant to provoke new thinking in the HCI domain.

Katre, Dinesh S. Journal of HCI Vistas (2005). Resources>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>User Experience


Just How Far Beyond HCI is Interaction Design?

A recent book captures a larger movement within the academic field of human-computer interaction away from its traditions of behavioral science and engineering towards 'interaction design.' But re-labeling isn't enough, it also requires a shift in philosophical foundations as well as professional practice, and the language of HCI is not the best place to look for inspiration.

Lowgren, Jonas. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Interaction Design


A Layered Interaction Analysis of Direct Manipulation

The concept of direct manipulation is usually viewed as a single characteristic of a class of interaction styles. Here, direct manipulation is analyzed according to a detailed layered interaction model, showing that it has quite different effects on the dialogue on the different levels. In particular, the "no errors" claim may be true at the syntax level but not at several of the levels above or below that level. Furthermore, a unified framework is presented for conceptualizing Direct Manipulation, What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG), Transparency, Immediate Command Specification, Arcticulatory Directness, and Computational Appliances according to a layered interaction view.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (1992). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface


Learning From Photoshop's "Variations" Tool

Adobe has been using one of the most effective contemporary goal-oriented interactive mechanisms for years, and a lot of product designers should have been paying attention. It is, of course, the 'Variations' tool.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction


Learning How to Use a Cellular Phone: Comparison Between German and Chinese Users   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The objective of this study was to investigate whether and how 'cultural standards' influence the use of typical daily products, e.g. a cellular phone. The goal was to provide insight for technical communicators who design information products for Chinese or German users. Hypotheses about differences in learning and information gathering strategies were derived from Chinese and German cultural standards. Methods used were focus groups, usability tests and a questionnaire. In focus groups, the question was raised about how cellular phone users had learned to use the phone. Four focus groups were held in each country (number of participants: China: n=26, Germany: n=24). A questionnaire was designed to provide additional information. During usability tests, the actual information searching behavior was recorded. Results indicate that the following cultural differences exist: The main source of information for Chinese is the sales clerk, whereas for Germans it is the conventional user manual.

Honold, Pia. Technical Communication Online (1999). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>International


Local Chapters of the ACM SIGCHI

ACM SIGCHI brings together people working on the design, evaluation, implementation, and study of interactive computing systems for human use. ACM SIGCHI provides an international, interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of ideas about the field of human-computer interaction (HCI).

ACM SIGCHI. Organizations>Human Computer Interaction>Regional


Macintosh OS 8 Human Interface Guidelines

This document describes the additions and changes to Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines related to the release of Mac OS 8. Specifically, it presents guidelines for taking advantage of the Mac OS platinum appearance and the Appearance Manager. This document does not replace Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines.

Apple Inc. (1997). Design>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface


Macintosh OS X: Aqua Human Interface Guidelines

This document, which covers features up to Mac OS X version 10.2, describes what you need to do to design your application for Aqua. Primarily intended for Carbon and Cocoa developers who want their applications to look right and behave correctly in Mac OS X, these guidelines provide examples of how to use Aqua interface elements. Java application developers will also find these guidelines useful.

Apple Inc. (2003). Design>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface


Magical Numbers: The Seven-Plus-or-Minus-Two Myth   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

George Miller’s “magical number seven, plus or minus two” is poorly understood and, consequently, blindly applied to professional communication. As an example, I have heard speakers explicitly allow themselves up to seven items of up to seven words on each visual aid, in addition to the title. Any such slide would fail any real-life test of effectiveness, such as briefly showing the slide while going on talking, then asking the audience what was on it. Such misconceptions endure.

Doumont, Jean-luc. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication (2002). Articles>Human Computer Interaction


Making the Physical Environment Interactive

Microsoft's most innovative product of the 1990s was Interactive Barney: a plush toy containing a computer that lets it interact with kids. When you squeeze Barney's toe, for example, he sings a song; when you cover his eyes, he plays peek-a-boo. Soon, many more physical objects may become interactive, and they're likely to contain much more broadly defined and subtle user interfaces than the primitive toe squeezing that Interactive Barney pioneered.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2002). Design>Human Computer Interaction


The Man Behind Clippy

Clippy's behavior bugged me, but I was so taken with his facial expressions that I always kind of felt bad sending him away. Anyway, Clippy took a back seat in later versions of Microsoft Office, so I hadn't thought about him in a while, when STC Secretary Erin Lowe off-handedly mentioned that she actually knew the man who invented Clippy. I was very excited to hear this, and Erin graciously agreed to arrange a meeting so that I could talk to Clippy's inventor about the creative process behind designing a user experience like Clippy.

Dickson, Andrea with Erin Lowe. STC Puget Sound (2007). Articles>Interviews>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface


Minimizing Bias in Computer Systems

Computer punch card tallying systems pose serious problems for fair elections. In particular, under-educated groups are more likely not to understand how the computerized system works. In this workshop we were concerned with understanding bias in computer systems and developing methods to help minimize bias through the design process.

Friedman, Batya, Eric Brok, Susan King Roth and John Thomas. SIGCHI Bulletin (1996). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Accessibility


Modeling the Empowered User   (PDF)

An STC-funded study of computer users in an R & D organization attempts to identify users who reflect a high degree of productive integration of computers into workplace tasks. The study reveals user stratification along the lines of low-strategic and high-strategic users: users who choose to use computers to accomplish information and communication-oriented tasks. The study attempts to confirm this stratification by indicating that users identified in this way also use computers to perform a higher frequency of information-related computer behaviors, such as use of email, electronic information transfer, archiving, and software learning. Identifying users in this way can help writers and documention designers by providing models of integrated computer use.

Barker, Thomas and Patricia Goubil-Gambrell. STC Proceedings (1996). Design>Human Computer Interaction>User Centered Design


Mutual Intercultural Perception: How Does It Affect Technical Communication? Some Data from China, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Italy    (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Professional technical communicators increasingly find themselves in a negotiation situation where cultural differences have caused misperceptions or confusion concerning time (pausing, interrupting). This article overviews an intercultural perception experiment that investigated how individuals from different cultures perceive questioning and pausing/interrupting behavior in the same videotaped Dutch-Chinese negotiation. The study, which involved Chinese, Dutch, German, French, and Italian students of similar educational backgrounds, revealed that culture can affect how different individuals perceive and interpret the same situation. For example, the 'traditionally' polite Chinese appear to interrupt more often than many Western individuals might expect. And while both Chinese and Dutch observers thought the Dutch interrupted far more often than the Chinese, findings based on linguistic parameters for interrupting reveal it is the Chinese who interrupt more often.

Ulijn, Jan M. and Kirk R. St. Amant. Technical Communication Online (2000). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>International


Narrative vs Control in the Online Story World

How much control should users be able to take over the system they are using? Within Human-Computer Interaction, the challenge is usually to give control of technology to users; be it through accessible design, or, more generally, by making paths clear and choices apparent.

Light, Ann. uiGarden (2005). Articles>Human Computer Interaction


Navigating Information Spaces

Evaluation is a fundamental part of human-computer interaction (HCI). Good HCI practice tells designers to evaluate: evaluate requirements, evaluate designs, evaluate prototypes. The purpose of evaluation is to improve the usability of a software system; that is to make it easy to use, easy to learn, effective and enjoyable. But what is usability and what makes one device easier to use than another? Traditional HCI theory has produced a number of evaluation techniques and guidelines. These are based on some basic psychological assumptions which date back to the sixties.

Benyon, David. ERCIM News (2001). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Information Design


A New Approach to Analyse Human-Mobile Computer Interaction   (peer-reviewed)

This paper describes a tool for log file recording and a method for quickly and easily analysing human-computer interaction with mobile devices. The tool logs screenshots and quantitative interaction data, such as number of clicks and timestamps. The analysing tool provides the ability to evaluate the interaction sequences and to export an MS Excel®-sheet for statistical analysis. To evaluate the tool, a usability study was conducted comparing the effectiveness of this tool in the laboratory and in the mobile context. Findings show that the tool is the first step toward a very effective, unobtrusive analysing method for user interaction in the mobile context. Combined with debriefing methods, it would be an optimized way for usability testing with mobile devices.

Kawalek, Jurgen, Annegret Stark and Marcel Riebeck. Journal of Usability Studies (2008). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Mobile>Log Analysis


No-One Looks at the Screen

One of the most fundamental factors in designing for screen-based media is: No-one likes looking at a computer screen.

Hunt, Ben. Web Design From Scratch (2006). Design>Web Design>Human Computer Interaction>User Centered Design


Noncommand User Interfaces

Several new user interface technologies and interaction principles seem to define a new generation of user interfaces that will move off the flat screen and into the physical world to some extent. Many of these next-generation interfaces will not have the user control the computer through commands, but will have the computer adapt the dialogue to the user's needs based on its inferences from observing the user. This article defines twelve dimensions across which future user interfaces may differ from the canonical window systems of today: User focus, the computer's role, interface control, syntax, object visibility, interaction stream, bandwidth, tracking feedback, interface locus, user programming, and software packaging. Keywords: Agents, Animated icons, BITPICT, DWIM, Embedded help, Eye tracking, Generations of user interfaces, Gestural interfaces, Help systems, Home computing, Interactive fiction, Interface paradigms, Noncommand based user interfaces, Prototyping, Usability heuristics, Virtual realities, Wizard of Oz method.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (1993). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface>Usability


Of Mice and iPods, or The Death of the Designer

Computing technologies are becoming so familiar it can feel as if they have always been here. It is strange to think that the mouse, for instance, was invented by Doug Englebart in the seventies. He must encounter a degree of incredulity when he mentions this to people. “You invented the mouse? Really? How nice. Did you also invent the pen?”

Blythe, Mark. uiGarden (2008). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Centered Design>Usability


OK-Cancel or Cancel-OK?

Should the OK button come before or after the Cancel button? Following platform conventions is more important than suboptimizing an individual dialog box.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2008). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface>Usability


One-Handed Thumb Use on Smart Phones by Semi-literate and Illiterate Users in India   (PDF)

There is tremendous potential for developing mobile-based occupational productivity tools for semi-literate and illiterate users in India. One-handed thumb use on the touchscreen of smart phone or touch phone is considered as an effective alternative than the use of stylus or index finger, to free the other hand for supporting occupational activity. In this context, usability research and experimental tests are conducted to understand the role of fine motor control, usability of thumb as the tool for interaction and the ergonomic needs of users. The paper touches upon cultural, racial and anthropometric needs related with the topic, which also need due consideration while designing the mobile interface. Design recommendations are evolved to improve overall effectiveness of one-handed thumb use on smart phone, especially for the benefit of semi-literate and illiterate users.

Katre, Dinesh. HCeye (2010). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Ergonomics>User Centered Design



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